Victoria’s latest effort to improve public transport services in Melbourne in a more sustainable way will be a AU$10-billion rail link between the capital of the Australia’s second most populous state and its busy airport.
Announced in March by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is running for re-election later this month, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link will provide a much-needed service to the airport, whose only connection to the city is a highway despite the growing number of flights it is handling every year.
The link will follow what is called the Sunshine Route, along which there will be a stop offering travellers connections to more areas of the city as well as the region, taking advantage of the construction of another metro line and an upgrade of the rail network.
«For decades Victorians have talked about a train line to the airport», Morrison said in a press release issued at the time of the announcement, which also involved Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. «We are delivering it».
The federal and the state government will share the cost of the project, each providing AU$5 billion.
The total cost, however, is estimated to be up to AU$13 billion, according to an official website dedicated to the project.
After a full business case for the project is completed in 2020, work is expected to begin by 2022 and last about nine years.
The growth that Melbourne Airport is experiencing is a reflection of the surge in the city’s population and economy. In 2016-2017, it received 35 million passengers, but that number is seen increasing to 67 million by 2038, according to Victoria’s Department of Transport.
The airport has about 21,000 full-time employees, but another 20,000 work at the nearby business park and other areas.
On a regular weekend, some 118,300 trips (71,200 passengers, 31,800 employees and 15,300 others) are made along the highway between the airport and the city. With the rail link, traffic is forecast to thin as more people leave their cars at home.
Like other public transport services, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link is bound to contribute to the fight against congestion on city streets. The Department of Transport estimates the rise in the number of vehicles travelling along them to cost each city resident AU$1,700 a year by 2030.
Victoria for Sustainable Mobility
The state is in the midst of a profound renewal of its infrastructure, in particular in terms of sustainable mobility.
It is overseeing nearly 120 projects under construction for a combined worth of AU$57 billion, according to official figures. The total workforce is about 12,000.
Most projects concern roads and railways, and one of the most important is the Metro Tunnel, the biggest of its kind in the city since the 1970s. It comprises two parallel tunnels nine kilometres long that will complement the existing metro network. At peak hours, it is to help the network carry 504,000 more people.
Another project is the renewal of the regional rail for which AU$1.75 billion is earmarked. Others include the construction of faster rail lines.
In order to supervise all of these projects, the state government created on January 1, 2019 the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority. Its role will be to follow everything from design to execution.